Classic cars provide the perfect pace for motoring along Norfolk’s idyllic country lanes. In Nelson’s case, they also trigger memories from complete strangers who can’t resist reminiscing; ‘I learnt to drive in one of those’, their classic number-plates recalled by rote, their repeated wish to smell the interior! In a classic car, the Norfolk road is an open one before you as, sedate at 40mph, it is a rare event to have the view blocked by slower traffic. Other classic car owners will enthusiastically wave as you pass, like the cryptic ‘handshake’ of a secret society. Nelson is my first car, (Trafalgar Blue and ever girl needs a hero) various reasons why needs did not dictate one till my late thirties. Unbeknownst at time of sale, he came with a file of provenance, old photos, all previous drivers details. He’s spent most of his life with Ivy Lavinia Hine, down on the south coast, the classic ‘careful spinster lady owner’.
What constitutes a ‘classic car’? West Norfolk Classic Car Club says: ‘Antique’ cars is a classification given to vehicles produced between 1880 to 1916, horse-less and carriage-less, powered by steam, electric or petrol combustion. Next comes ‘Vintage’ from 1916 to 1924, the product of experimentation and innovation. ‘Classic cars’ generally refer to those built between 1925 to present, but can be a generic term covering any cars considered ‘collectable’.
On Sunday July 8th, at least sixty ‘classic cars’ lined up on the starting grid to take part in the 18th Annual Charles Clark classic car rally. The event was started by Charles, (the landlord of the Wiveton Bell who would famously fire up his Jaguar engine, installed in the pub’s fireplace, to raise money for charity) though sadly ‘lost at sea’ in 1998, the rally enthusiastically continues.
This year saw the entry of two steam cars from 1909/1910. They needed a water refill every 25 miles! The Happisburgh Lifeboat is this year’s chosen charity. Crew members also attended. Nelson and I joined in the spectacle as they assembled from 9 am in all their chrome glory at The Pigs Edgefield (about 15 minutes from Holt and 45 minutes from Norwich) to munch bacon sandwiches, quaff fresh coffee and discuss their wheels. Rallying, classic car style, saw them set off sedately, individually, all away by 10.30am. The route took them to Bressingham steam museum.
Norfolk has a healthy selection of classic car clubs, all of which host varied events.
West Norfolk Classic Car Club
You don’t have to own a classic car to join. Cars, like their owners, vary in age, condition and performance!
North Norfolk Classic Car Club
welcomes new members for ‘drive, fun and friendship’.
The Norwich Classic Vehicle Club
hosts an annual show which attracts enthusiasts from outside the County as well as its swelling membership.
Fakenham Auto Club
No vehicle necessary, but interest and enthusiasm essential.
North Norfolk Morris Minor Owners Club
50 members, nothing more classy than a line of Minors enjoying the open road, but then I’m biased!
Thank you to that nice young man who helped us fix the tow rope to limp Nelson back to Holt. Thanks also to the helpful Itteringham builder who changed Nelson’s wheel and got well-deserved cake payment from an un-distressed damsel in return.
PS I always try to pull in and let the traffic by when I can.